Because one of the most common questions people have about birds is whether or not they eat bees, this article is meant to provide its readers with the necessary answers. What is more, if you are interested, we strongly advise that you check out this buying guide that we have prepared, as it is packed with numerous squirrel proof bird feeder reviews.
Although most birds are omnivores, that is, they eat both plants and other insects, not all of them like to eat bees. The reason for this has to do with numerous aspects, one of them being the fact snagging a bee is quite difficult and, consequently, most birds actually stick to eating slower moving insects.
Not all birds are naturally equipped with the skills that they need in order to eat bees. This happens because bees are quite small, fast and they do not fly in a straight line. Therefore, they are difficult to catch.
To catch a bee, a bird has to fly at high speeds and to accurately judge the correct angle of the insect. This is quite complicated and not all birds are able to do so. Because of this most birds prefer eating bees that are on the ground, dead or stationary.
The birds that eat wasps and bees are called bee-eaters. They are usually found in southern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Africa. One of the best-known bee-eaters is called the Summer Tanager. Given that its diet consists of eating bees, most beekeepers persecute it.
What is more, the Summer Tanager is quite a sizeable bird that can reach a length of 7 inches, which is quite a lot when compared to other species of Tanagers. Most Summer Tanagers have a bright yellow or red color, are easy to spot and they also eat other kinds of insects, as well as fruit.
Because this is a migratory species of birds, it can only be spotted in the southern part of the USA in April to summer.
Methods that bee-eaters use
There are two methods that bee-eaters usually use in order to catch bees. Some swoop the insects form branches or they glide so that they catch the bees as they fly around.
Before they actually eat the bees, these birds use their beaks to kill the insects and to remove their stinger. This way, they do not actually ingest the toxins.
Occasional bee-eaters in the US
Even though there are not a lot of birds that eat bees in the US, there are still a couple of species that are known to indulge in eating bees. For instance, purple martins are a type of violet and bluebirds that are very opportunistic and that also eat bees, alongside other insects such as fire ants and wasps.
Other species of birds that also eat bees occasionally are thrushes, kingbirds, mockingbirds, and swifts. Plus, woodpeckers are also known to single on hives and eat bees when possible.
As we were saying at the beginning of the article, most birds prefer eating slow-moving insects. Because it is significantly easier, most feathered companions like to hunt for caterpillars, spiders, worms, and grubs. Additionally, because they are omnivores, most birds also eat grains, seeds, and fruit.
The honey buzzard
Another bee-eating bird that can be found in the UK during the warm months and in Africa during the winter is the honey buzzard. This kind of bird is large in size and it has a distinct, colorful plumage.
One interesting fact about the honey buzzard is that they do not like eating adult wasps and bees, but rather larvae. They generally follow the adult bees to their hives and, then, they use their claws to open the nests and rampage their inside.
Because these birds have their heads covered in a special type of feathers, they cannot be stung. Numerous birdwatchers are fascinated with the behavior of this species and they often like to observe it.
Are bees in danger because of birds?
In recent years, many people have started to become more aware of the fact that bees have started to go extinct. There are numerous documentaries that talk about this issue. However, the bee population is not threatened by the presence of birds.
Studies have shown that there are more important predators that cause much more problems for bees. Some animals such as foxes, badgers, bears, shrews, and bears are known for breaking into hives and eating everything they can.
However, the biggest threat to bees is the use of pesticides. In an attempt to stop bee massacres, the European Union has started to impose bans on popular class insecticides and neonicotinoids. Similarly, this year, the US has banned a total of 12 neonicotinoids pesticides. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been used commercially in the USA since the 1980s.
According to the researchers, neonicotinoids have a similar effect on bees like nicotine has on people. This substance can cause bees to experience issues with their central nervous system. As a result, bees start to exhibit memory issues, movement problems, and even death.
Another ingredient used in the making of pesticides that have also been banned is thiamethoxam. This substance is known to impair the memory and motor function of bees and make them hyperactive. What is more, studies have shown that bees that have been exposed to thiamethoxam are also less tolerant of the Chronic Bee Paralysis virus.
Clothianidin is yet another substance that is used in pesticides whose use has been regulated in recent years. The main issue with clothianidin is its effect on the insects’ ability to reproduce.
What type of birds can be attracted by using feeders?
If you are an avid bird watcher, or if you simply love the idea of providing wide birds with food, a back-yard feeder is all you need. There is a wide array of birds that one can feed and observe in the USA.
The northern cardinal is a widespread species of birds that can be found in seven states, this bird is particularly easy to spot because of its intense red plumage. The northern cardinal is a songbird that often visits the backyards of people and they are not shy when it comes to using feeders. They like safflower and sunflower seeds.
The Baltimore Oriole is another kind of bird that you might be familiar with. They are very common in Maryland and they stand out because of their beautiful colors. Many schools have selected the Baltimore Oriole as their mascot. This bird likes jelly and oranges.
The American robin is another bird that you are most likely familiar with. The robin likes to rummage for worms and it is common in states such as Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
If you know a thing or two about woodpeckers, you probably know that the smallest species in North America is the downy woodpecker. It is easy to spot because of its beautiful white and black plumage. The downy woodpecker is very sociable and it likes living in birdhouses. They are also not afraid of feeders.
The American goldfinch is another bird that you are prone to spot near a feeder, especially if it is stocked with Nyjer seeds. These birds often sing a melodious song that is similar to that sung by canaries.
If you like adding sunflower seeds in your feeder, you are also likely to see Black-Capped Chickadees dropping for a visit. These birds are small in size and they are quite dynamic and cute because of their black throats and caps.
Those who live in Carolina might already be familiar with the Carolina wren. This bird is also quite small in size and it has an energetic behavior that will surely catch your attention.
The Yellow-Rumped Warbler is another species that you are likely to recognize easily in your backyard, especially if you live in North America.
The negative impact of bird feeding
Even though feeding birds can have a positive impact, there are a couple of negative aspects that you should also be aware of. Birds are self-sufficient animals that often do not need people’s help to find sources of food. Providing your feathered friends with food might also attract other predators and pests such as mice, raccoons, and squirrels.
On top of that, there is a chance that bully birds might actually take over the feeder. Before you install a feeder, be sure to check the local legislation as there are cities and communities where installing feeders is prohibited.